A taste of racism…

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This item was Stuff (the Fairfax news media) caught my attention,

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'Racist' label angers Kiwis in AustraliaSource

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Having lived briefly in Australia, I can vouch for the racist attitude that many Australians have toward migrants. New Zealanders are no exception, and also suffer the wrath of prejudice from some of our Aussie cuzzies.

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Which is ironic, as we ourselves have a long way to go, to examine our own racist attitudes and how desperately we (or some of us) cling to prejudice to preserve our place in society’s hierarchy.

Nisbet’s cartoons, published mid last year (2013) are a case in point;

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290513 The Marlborough Express Al Nisbet cartoon

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Al Nisbet's racist cartoon (2)

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Those who did not see Nisbet’s cartoons are racist and offensive could be placed in two broad (sometimes over-lapping?); those who are ordinary racists and who saw the cartoons as a validation of their views; and the Uninformed who – whilst not consciously racist – probably didn’t recognise the nature of the images and the messages they were conveying. They simply had no political consciousness that could *switch on* a light-bulb in their minds and instantly recognise what Nibet’s cartoons represented.

And really, any one of us can fall into that particular trap on occassion. An image that might seem innocuous to one person might be utterly reprehensible to another.

The difference between the racist and the uninformed is that the latter can learn and when understanding comes, the *lightswitch* comes on.

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For a cartoonist to be truly subversive, their art should express  critical attention on society’s unpleasant prejudices; irrational contradictions; and those who exploit  traditions to maintain positions of power. These are the things that demand to be challenged.

Nisbet’s cartoons did not challenged popular prejudices – they reinforced and gave credence to them. It gave “comfort to the enemy” – the enemy being ignorance and bigotry. It reinforced rather than scrutinised or challenged.

The cartoonist below, on the other hand, challenged the knee-jerk mindlessness of parroted bigotry,

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racism-cartoon-go-home

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The unknown (American?) creator of the above cartoon subverted the “logic” of the racist, showing it to be what is truly is; untenable when taken to it’s ultimate, ludicrous conclusion.

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Returning to the Stuff article above, it’s not often that white New Zealanders get a taste of what racism feels like. Experiencing it at the hands of others suddenly widens our perception as we find ourselves walking in someone elses’ shoes.

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References

Fairfax media: ‘Racist’ label angers Kiwis in Australia

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9 COMMENTS

  1. White Kiwis are not a race. The first time I had any real idea of what racism was about was during the dawn raid days. I was talking to a Samoan friend of mine, and mentioned that the cops gave me a bit of unwarranted attention as well, because I rode a British motorbike. He said to me “You can choose to travel by car.”
    So, while Australia discriminates against us in many ways, it doesn’t have the every present stench of racism. We can drink cold horse piss instead of beer and eat feesh and cheeps, or even keep our mouths shut. It’s not the same, and we are cheapening the experiences of indigenous Australians, refugees, Maori, and Pasifika peoples if we pretend it is.

  2. The practice of racism has no logic.

    I once briefly worked in an office in Parnell in Auckland. There was a middle aged European woman there who spoke with a strong British accent. She was going off to anyone who would listen about her hatred of “Asian immigrants” coming into the country and taking “our jobs”. Weirdly, she as an immigrant herself, having come to New Zealand from the UK. I was quickly able to point out to her the absurdity of her anti-immigrant views, her being an immigrant herself, she apologised. And then immediately switched her rant to attacking “Maarys” about being dirty and lazy and getting lots of privileges that white people don’t get. I mean, what the hell?

    The office manager had to come over and tell her to shut up.

    My conclusion: haters just love to hate, that their views cause hurt and may even lead to violence doesn’t concern them.

  3. What about all the Aussie’s who are on the dole ? I guess its Ok for the Aussies to be on the dole receiving handouts because they are too affected by drugs and alcohol to go to work, unlike other nations who come here to escape a country at war ? Not only that these refugees at least try to get work. What about the Aussies, they get the King and Queen treatment in their own country and yet they sit on their assholes complaining. Bunch of lazy twats.

  4. The australian producti ity commision concluded that therewas little or no discernable benefit to australians from immigration. Our own productivity commision agreed that its terms of enquiry should be set so that they are broadly politically a ceptable (don’t put heat on Labour/Green)..
    The Savings Working group said similar but is not reported by self serving or liberal media.
    your argument that only first peoples can say no to migrants ignores agri ulture and diminishing returns when addinv labour to developped economies.
    Humans by nature favour their in group over an out group; motherz favour their own cbildren over some other mothers children : that’s evolution.

    • …your argument that only first peoples can say no to migrants ignores agri ulture and diminishing returns when addinv labour to developped economies…

      I don’t believe I made any such argument. It’s unclear where you got that from.

      Humans by nature favour their in group over an out group; motherz favour their own cbildren over some other mothers children : that’s evolution.

      One would think that humans are influenced by more than just “evolution”. (And evolution is not quite as selfish as some would believe.)

      • The first point was from the cartoon (American Indian).
        what I’m saying is that while settlers from europe displaced native societies they brought agriculture and increased carrying capacity. Countries like Canada, US, NZ Australia have developed and reached diminishing returns whereas it is overpopulation (arguably) driving poor from poor countries. Immigration creates it’s own demand for manufacturing, construction etc (“needed skills”) and the agglomeration thing has failed so far and is just a crock as our main industries don’t respond to scale.

        The second point about evolution and preference for ones own in group is important in the context of immigration policy. When NZ First opposed immigration from Asia it became almost mandatory that immigration be from Asia (as to be otherwise was racist). The whole argument about immigration (on the left) was subverted by that consideration, the subtleties of the argument (of not having a big national family) were cast aside and the Green Party was the worst offender.
        Understanding that people prefer their own ethnic group by nature isn’t offensive; we aren’t offended that one boy’s mother prefers a different boy to oneself.

  5. I felt that what Nisbet was doing with those two cartoons that you reference was trying to ‘name and shame’ the prevalent attitudes to the food in schools scheme. Many liberal left-wing “I’m not a racist” people may have been shocked to realise that this is what they were really thinking and only recognised it as offensive when taken to the extreme by Nisbet.

    • I’d say Nisbet was trying to pull a Borat Sagdiyev, only to miss the mark, for the simple fact that he ended up having to explain the joke. Tom Scott’s take on the issue was a bit more nuanced.

  6. Yet weirdly you didn’t pick up potentially antisemitic pictures that were posted here. I guess we all wear blinkers of one sort or another.

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